Random Book Note: Phyllis Gotlieb

I’m reading about sixteen different books at the moment, although as usual most of them aren’t helping improve my middlebrow status much. I think for better or worse dead middle is the permanent level of my brow. Oh well. Anyway, here are two quotes from today’s lunchtime reading that I liked a lot:

“There was a book in the library about Holland. There were lovely foreign names in it and pictures of strange looking cities and ships. It made you feel so happy.”

—James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“…at a boutique where he clothed himself in nuvopunque hypersuede and cylon.”

—Phyllis Gotlieb, Flesh and Gold

I know everybody knows that first book pretty well, but the second one’s probably a ton less well-known, which is a shame because, according to me, it’s 110% awesome. And lucky you, lots of used bookstores all across the world have at least one copy on hand, so go out and get one now. And then read it, so I won’t be the only one.

Oh, and Flesh and Gold is available for the Kindle, which is the sort of thing I need to get into the habit of checking, since that’s one of the directions my own imaginary press will be going in, when it gets going, which I hope like heck will be soon. [Note: as of April of 2013, it looks like this ebook is no longer available. Sad.]

Also, I just noticed: one of the reviews is a note from 2001 from Ms. Gotlieb herself, about how she’d been recommended her own book, which she thought was a nice and helpful thing for the browser-spying system to do. She passed away in 2009, but my dream is people will keep discovering her books for a very long time to come. I guess if one of my jobs is to tell people about stuff they might not know about, even if we live nowadays in a super-knowing culture, that’s not really a bad job to have. As opposed to tattooing rabbits, which was one of my old jobs, way back about a million years ago.

P.S. I’m not a hugely myopic fan of online bookstores, by the way. In fact, right now, one famously giant one isn’t helping me much with an extremely lost and extremely expensive shipment. But, naive optimist that I am, I still hope that sometime in the very far future, online bookstores will work the way they currently claim to work (but don’t). Like I said, extremely naive optimist.

Not that I’m overly nostalgic about the indie bookstore world. Working there made me embrace the theory (if not the often grim reality) of online bookselling with all my heart. Or, most of it, anyhow.

Not, of course, that there aren’t 11 million problems with the soulless monocultures of retail conglomerates. But you and I both don’t need to rehash that whole subject here. Seriously.

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